On the morning of New Year’s Eve I attended a spin class and then went home to get showered and changed. Just before I was about to leave to visit my mum I was taken ill and before I knew it I was being admitted to hospital with suspected appendicitis. This was not how I’d planned to see out 2016 (which had, incidentally, already been a pretty challenging year – I became a Ms and lost my dad). And so it was, on New Year’s Day 2017, I had my appendix removed.
After the operation I was transferred to the Day Surgery Ward (because the hospital was so stretched they had to use what space they could find) and was the first person to be wheeled into a bay. Over the morning I was joined by five other ladies all of whom were pushing 80. To begin with they were quite quiet but as the day pressed on they began chatting to one another. I say ‘chatting’ but what really happened was that Phyllis, two beds down from me, and Gladys, directly opposite me, were the especially talkative ones and so they shouted across the ward at each other. I soon learned: how they liked to take their tea; what they thought of the Queen; their views on the NHS; their opinions on the state of marriage in 21st century Britain; that Gladys had been one hour away from death just last week and that Phyllis had once been offered a cup of tea by Prince Edward (‘that’s why I like them – they’re so down to earth’). On and on and on.
Soon all five septua- and octogenarians got involved in the small talk and shared anecdotes and opinions until the lights were unceremoniously switched off just after 10pm. Through the night they were thankfully quiet but the shouting began again soon after sunrise. They also took an interest in each other and would direct a nurse to one of their fellow patients when they felt it necessary. These veteran patients had clearly mastered the art of patienting; they knew how to play their part. By contrast, I had pulled the curtains around my bed as soon as I’d arrived and had no interest in talking to anyone – I just wanted to sleep. I realised this makes me sound like a right misery… Perhaps I should have been nattering away with Phyllis and the Bay 5 gang?
Being anti-social when I’m unwell is just one of the reasons I make a bad patient. Another is that I just don’t really know what to do with myself. I’m not often ill, this is the longest stretch I’ve had off work in my entire career, and I’m feeling a bit lost. I’m one week into my recovery and have been signed off for another week. I know I’m not fit to return to work yet (not least because I still look pregnant with the swelling – something confirmed to me by a doctor’s joke on Friday*) and I should concentrate on getting better but it’s easier said than done. I was appointed as Head of English at a new school last September so was very much looking forward to getting stuck back into things this January; work isn’t far from my mind.
I long thought I’d relish the time to lounge about and watch TV but, as it turns out, that’s enjoyable for a matter of hours and then it gets pretty tedious. Of course I could turn my attention to the pile of marking I was meant to tackle last weekend but somehow I’m not sure I’m up to that just yet…
* The Joke:
Me: I’ve come in because I’m a bit concerned about the swelling – my tummy really does look pretty big.
Doctor: (grinning) When was your last period – seven months ago?
Post 2 of #WeeklyBlogChallenge17